Fannie Flagg first revealed her recipe for fried green tomatoes to the NY Post in 1969. By 1991, she had parlayed that Southern dish into a new career. Her second novel, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, is now a feature film and Flagg a respected writer. But prior to this literary incarnation, Flagg spent years doing just about everything in show business.
After losing six Miss Alabama pageants, Flagg won a scholarship to study acting at the Pittsburgh Playhouse. At 18, she hosted a live TV show in Birmingham but left for New York, where she became a writer and performer on Candid Camera. (”My favorite was driving through the wall of the drive-in bank,” she says.) She’s worked on stage (The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas), in film (Five Easy Pieces), and as a TV talk- and game-show regular (Match Game P.M).
Writing, however, didn’t come as easily to the 47-year-old Flagg. After a story she wrote won first prize at the Santa Barbara Writer’s Conference in 1978, she hid it for two years before turning it into her first book, Coming Attractions. ”I didn’t know that I could do it,” she says. ”It’s true that in everybody’s life they’re scared to do the thing that they want.” It’s not surprising then, that Flagg was incredulous when producer Jon Avnet wanted to turn Tomatoes into a movie, for which Flagg cowrote the script. These days Flagg resides in Alabama with her cat, Nurse Gracie, and is working on her third novel. As to her recent success, she confides, ”I’m still in a state of shock.”